If you tuned into the first half of the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, two things became evident fairly quick. First, LSU is a hell of a team, and they are more than deserving of the top seed in the College Football Playoff. Second, Justin Jefferson is a baller.
Heading into Saturday’s game, the all-time record for receiving touchdowns in any FBS Bowl game was four. Jefferson accomplished that feat in less than two quarters of football. Jefferson’s brilliant play has the internet buzzing and scouts raving about his prospects at the next level.
Expect Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller to go back to the drawing board after Jefferson’s Peach Bowl performance. In Miller’s latest 2020 NFL Draft Big Board, he pegged Jefferson as just the 11th-best receiver in the draft class.
WalterFootball has Jefferson going off the board in the second round in this year’s upcoming NFL Draft. In WalterFootball’s most recent Mock Draft, Jefferson comes off the board 49th-overall to the Chicago Bears.
Here at Heavy, we had a bit more positive view on Jefferson’s draft stock. In our 2020 NFL Mock Draft: CFB Playoff Edition, we slotted Jefferson in the first round, 31st overall to the Saints, giving Michael Thomas a running mate in New Orleans.
ESPN’s Todd McShay is one of the only other “draft experts” to back our belief of Jefferson being a round one prospect before the Peach Bowl. In McShay’s latest mock draft he had Jefferson going 15th overall to the Indianapolis Colts.
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Justin Jefferson’s NFL Draft Profile
Pros: Jefferson poses legitimate WR1 size, standing at 6’3” and nearly 200 pounds. He possesses solid long-speed for a player of his size, having averaged nearly 15 yards per reception over the past two seasons. He’s shown steady improvement every year at LSU, most notably in consistency and ability to get in and out of routes. His size and production (24 receiving touchdowns from 2018-2019) should convert favorably to being a legitimate redzone threat at the next level.
Cons: Jefferson is more of a strider, who picks up speed over time, rather than a true dynamic athlete. At this time, he is a bit slow off the line of scrimmage. Due to his game speed, he tends to find himself in numerous contested catch situations. He will need to learn how to better use his 6’3” frame to fend off defenders, while also being more aggressive at the point of reception. He’s also shown lapses in concentration at times, leading to drops, most notably in 2018.
Draft Projection: Late 1st Round to Early 2nd Round
Jefferson may lack the true game-changing athleticism to work himself into the upper-echelon of wide receivers in this class, consisting of names such as Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and Henry Ruggs III. However, he’s atop the second-tier, and should find himself coming off the board in the late first round. He has high-end WR2 upside, and will immediately make an impact in the redzone serving as a big-bodied receiver.
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